On rare occasions, I feel spooked out on a trail. In my youth traipsing around the back fields and forests of the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York, I walked alone for miles and rarely felt that “something was off.” Other than black bears when we camped in the Adirondacks, there weren’t a lot of predatory animals. As unlikely as it was that a nefarious entity was stalking me, once in a while the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I called my beagle Spike to stay in close range.
Flash forward to current day San Francisco. The day after Halloween, my son and I went for a walk in one of the quietest parts of Golden Gate Park. One of the small lakes we love is surprisingly uncrowded even on weekends when the park is busy. On our Tuesday walk, there wasn’t another soul in sight.
From the moment we walked to the edge of Elk Glen Lake, I had a nagging feeling to stay alert. Sean is severely autistic and often silent as we walk. We stood quietly hand in hand before we set foot on the loop trail. The golden light of the first day of November enveloped the trees, leaf-covered trail, and water of the lake. The only sound was leaves rustling in the breeze.
People are more likely to be a problem in a city than wildlife, but coyote interactions had been on the increase, so my sensors were on high.
“Come on, Sean,” I said, pulling his hand to get started.
It was a stunning fall afternoon, including a snack break in the quietest part of the trail, where no malevolent forces appeared. Maybe the souls making passage through All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day had triggered my “somebody is watching us” sensors, but it turned out to be a lovely walk wrapped in a magical autumn glow.
In what sometimes feels like a very challenging life, I ask myself when I feel most centered and happy. Time spent in nature, and time with special people always win out. Turns out that walking with Sean on a pretty trail—he quiet, and me sometimes commenting on things as we amble along—ranks at the top of my feeling-at-peace scale.
May everyone share time in the comforting glow of nature with someone special, even if that someone is yourself. Keep putting one foot forward!
This week’s HikingAutism Hike Notes from the archives is Elk Glen Lake-Golden Gate Park, one of several charming little lakes dotting Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 158): Elk Glen Lake-Golden Gate Park
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Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.